Monday, March 28, 2016

Bowens Island Restaurant

1870 Bowens Island Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412
(843) 795-2757

My low country journey would not have been complete without a trip to Bowens Island. What is Bowens Island? If I was given the (very remote) opportunity to go to heaven, and Bowens Island was one of the choices, I would be there. At the restaurant (seen on the left below), they get clusters of oysters dropped off at the dock, where they are hosed down before being sent to the basement of the building to be roasted and steamed and slapped on a tray. Unbelievable.

As you can see, there is already a line of folks waiting to order, but checking out the process was an integral part of the trip for me.

If you get someone in line, another member of the party can sneak around the back and grab drinks from the bar to hold you over until it's your shot. Unfortunately, you will have to watch THIS sunset while you sip a cold beer and wait your turn.

Inside is a bit more chaotic, with the food line wrapping towards the heron, and the bar line on the right. I typically would not wait in line for an hour, but chatting with the people waiting with you and having some drinks makes everything all right in the world. Plus, this is the South. No one is EVER in a rush, and it takes a couple of days for a neurotic Northerner to settle down and relax. I did not want to head back North at the end of my trip.

After you order, you pick up your tray of oysters from the oyster man himself in the cinder block and graffiti-adorned basement. The clusters are roasted over this fire with a burlap sack, then shoveled into a steamer.

At that point, they serve you with a snow shovel. Just amazing.

You are handed an oyster knife rolled up in towel, are left to find a table (with a convenient hole in the middle to discard shells as you eat) and get to work.

These oysters clump together in the marshes, and they are served just so. As you almost cut through your hand with the knife, get small cuts on your fingers from the shells, and quaff beers, you wonder why you don't live here.

After breaking apart a cluster, find the open shells, and pry them farther with your trusty knife. It's unbelievably fun, and makes for quite an experience.

All of this danger and effort results in a plump little briny reward. Slurp and repeat. Curse yourself for only ordering a tray and a half. Get back in line and repeat.

I also tried some of their other offerings. Boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, hush puppies, fries and slaw. Simple and perfect.

The fried shrimp had a beautiful flaky batter, and were just addictive. The sweet crustaceans were devoured like popcorn, and helped to soak up some of the beer.

The boiled u-peel shrimp were heavily seasoned, and quickly disappeared.

The surprisingly delicate hush puppies had a golden crust, and a slightly sweet interior. Everything about this place was just phenomenal. It was the best meal I have eaten this year, and one of my favorites of all time. I can't wait to go back to the low country, and next time I will probably order twice as much. If you are in the Charleston area, drive the dirt road back Bowens Island road, and you won't be disappointed.


Unknown said...

The food is looking delicious.

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Unknown said...

Bowens Island is the heaven on earth. Different variety of delicious food items are available in this restaurant. I am planning to visit this place soon. I will share my experience through Essay writing service USA.